This week I was invited to attend a roundtable discussion on the impact of Brexit on the small business community in the UK. In No.10 Downing Street, with the Small Business Minister, the Downing Street business team and 30 other entrepreneurs. What an honour.
How did this come about?
I was named in the Small Business Saturday top 100 small businesses in 2017 and had my first opportunity to visit Downing Street. At that event, I networked and made connections with lots of other amazing entrepreneurs, some of whom I am still in touch with today. One of my connections suggested I join the Enterprise Nation community and I applied to be one of their online business advisors. I was named in the Top 50 Business Advisors for E-Nation for 2018 and went back to London to attend their awards event in early 2018. It always pays to network and connect in person!
At the Top 50 event, I was introduced to Emma Jones at Enterprise Nation and Lorna Bladen who was then running the #SheMeansBusiness campaign for Facebook. I applied to become one of their Facebook and Instagram accredited trainers with the #SheMeansBusiness programme. If you have been following my social media, you will know that as part of that programme, I host a monthly meetup for female founders in Belfast to discuss social media, and this summer I went ‘on the road’ around N.Ireland to connect with more entrepreneurs. For local female founders, you are welcome to join my #SheMeansBusiness N.Ireland community.
How does this take me to the roundtable discussion?
I am now one of the Enterprise Nations Top 50 Small Business Advisors for 2018, and I am in touch with E-Nation’s team for the SheMeansBusiness programme. I have hosted free webinars for the community and contributed to their small business blog. When Emma emailed me to ask if I would sign a letter supporting Theresa May’s deal for Brexit last month, I was delighted to participate. The letter was published in the The Times.
Following the publishing of the letter, a follow-up invitation came to attend and participate in a roundtable discussion. On the table – how was I planning for Brexit, what impact did I think it would have on my business, and what support would I like to see from the government for the entrepreneurial community. Of course, I said yes! I surveyed my online business community, the Social Beehive – without telling them I was going to No.10 and had some good comments to take with me.
The day was a grand event. We met the Minister inside No.10, had some networking time with the other businesses, and then got to say our piece. I raised the N.Irish border issue, the need for help for the smaller and micro business community, and the fact that without exception, my entrepreneurial community wanted the deal to be accepted. You can read more about the whole event here on Enterprise Nation’s blog.
As politics moves so fast, by the time I met a friend for lunch in Trafalgar Square, the vote to pass the deal had been postponed. The over-riding request from the roundtable was for some certainty for the small business community on what was happening and how to proceed. It looks like we have to wait another day.